From the pulpit to the front office

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 15th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: passing on a family business.

Some estimates say that by the year 2025, the United States will see up to $10 trillion of private business assets change hands. 

As Baby Boomers retire, they are looking to pass their businesses on to their children.

EICHER: But sometimes it isn’t easy for those children to choose the family business. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg recently met up with one of those children to find out how he decided what to do.

ADAM: So my grandpa shot that rhino long before I was born. And that lion. Those are very old animals there. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Hunting is a way of life for the Weatherby family. 

Adam Weatherby points to game on display in the lobby of Weatherby Incorporated headquarters. 

ADAM: That’s an elk from last year. My wife shot that elk the year before. That’s a white tail I shot. My uncle shot that buffalo… 

Roy Weatherby, Adam’s grandfather, founded hunting firearms company Weatherby Incorporated in 1945. He wanted to create a rifle that could take down big game quickly, and therefore, Adam says, more humanely. 

ADAM: So he actually went on a hunt in the 40s, wounded an animal and couldn’t find it. And that’s when he wanted to, his whole deal with high velocity cartridges where you would have more powder pushing that bullet faster. That’s actually how the business started.

Today, Weatherby is one of the oldest, family-owned rifle companies in the United States. 

Around the corner, hang racks of guns the company has made over the years. 

ADAM: You can see the classic super shiny, high polish, high grade walnut and maple. We still sell a little bit of that but the majority of what we sell is a lot more you can see carbon fiber, titanium… 

But firearms manufacturing is a family tradition Adam Weatherby thought he’d leave behind.

Growing up, Adam says his parents taught him to love God, the outdoors, and hunting. He especially loved hunting alongside his father and second-generation company president, Ed Weatherby. 

ADAM: It was an avenue for us to spend time as father and son, you know, out in the field, chasing animals or birds.

After high school, Adam thought the family business might be his future. He married his high school sweetheart, Brenda, and began working in different departments to learn the trade. 

ADAM: I was kind of learning, you know, both marketing and sales and service and, technical aspects of the business and manufacturing and different things. 

At the same time, Adam was also very involved in his local church. After a couple of years working for Weatherby Incorporated, he felt God calling him away. 

ADAM: It was really the eternal impact in just knowing life’s short and you get one, one stab at it. And at the end, you know, what really matters is people. 

Adam says his father supported his decision either way: to leave or stay. So Adam chose full-time ministry. For the next decade and a half, he led mission trips, spoke at youth events, and served on his church’s teaching team.

While Adam’s family understood his decision, fans of the business did not. 

ADAM: From folks in the outdoors and hunting in industry, there’s definitely like, Hey man, why’d that kid leave, like, I’d love to be in the Weatherby family… 

Despite that outside lack of understanding, Adam didn’t see himself returning. Then, in 2013, his father, Ed, sat him down. Ed was getting older and needed to make a business transition plan. He told Adam if he wanted to come back, now was the time. 

Adam says he loved ministry, but he also loved the family business and legacy. 

ADAM: When you have a family business for generations, it’s it’s rare that it does make it to the third and beyond. 

The more Adam prayed about the decision, he began to see how leading the company could also be a ministry platform. So, in 2014, he came back to the family business. It was a jarring change.

ADAM: Just seeing fruit in ministry and people’s lives changed and being a part of that and to go from that to, you know, building, selling marketing firearms. So giant transition. 

But Adam Weatherby says he quickly saw how the role combined his passions for people and hunting and how ministry had prepared him for the job. 

ADAM: What I did have was, the ability to, communicate vision or direction, assemble a good team. And in just general leadership that you would learn, say in a ministry role, I think is really working with people… 

Three years ago, Adam became the president of the company.

AUDIO: Weatherby Commercial: I think each generation leaves its mark in a family business. It’s an honor to be another chapter in the Weatherby Book. 

To cut tax and regulation costs, Adam made big changes. He decided to relocate the company from California to Second Amendment-friendly Wyoming where he built a new manufacturing facility and offices. 

ADAM: So this is our shop and like I said, we got about a 75,000 square foot facility. 

Across the shop, workers weld, cut and measure at different stations. 

ADAM: We’ve got about 88 employees that show up to work here every day… 

On the weekends, when Adam isn’t working or hunting, he still gets to travel to churches and preach. 

ADAM PREACHING: In John chapter 4 there’s a story about a well. And it’s about Jesus who goes to a woman who’d been trying, thing after thing, after thing.

Even so, Adam Weatherby says he sometimes misses full-time ministry. But he’s learned that where he gets his paycheck doesn’t define him. It’s who he is while he gets it.

ADAM: So hopefully, whatever we do, we do it all, both with excellence, and hopefully, we’re shining that light that we’re called to do no matter where we’re at.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Sheridan, Wyoming.

(Photo/Adam Weatherby, via Liberty University)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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